By Liam Napier
Before scaling the highest peaks of heavyweight boxing, Joseph Parker must first turn axeman and chop a giant Ukrainian down to size.
As far as mountaineering goes Alexander Dimitrenko represents one of the tallest tests Parker will face. But is by no means the most skilful.
The 2.01 metre unit and former world youth champion may resemble Ivan Drago out of Rocky IV but has been handpicked as another stepping stone on the road to Parker's IBF challenge with Anthony Joshua, a title fight that now seems destined to take place next year.
Negotiations for the Joshua fight don't have to start until November 9, but must be completed one month later.
"All we know is Joshua is talking to other camps at the moment. He's definitely not talking to us," Barry said. "The fact we're taking this fight on October 1 there is a pretty fair assumption we're not fighting Joshua in November.
Ukraine's Alexander Dimitrenko will fight Joseph Parker in October.
"After this fight there's every indication that everything going well we'll fight another tall guy later in the year."
Everything from here is about preparing Parker for Joshua. That means after his last three opponents - Jason Bergman, Carlos Takam and Solomon Haumono, all of whom were around 1.88m and much shorter than Parker - the time has come to test the 24-year-old Kiwi contender in other ways.
Dimitrenko, a title contender between 2006-09, is eight centimetres taller, boasts an 18cm reach advantage and is twice as experienced as Parker.
"Five inches might not sound like a lot but five inches in a boxing ring is a massive amount of height difference," Barry said.
The 34-year-old Dimitrenko is not a noted power puncher, with just a 60 per cent knockout rate, but offers Parker the chance to sharpen tactics for the potential of facing tall champions, Wladimir Klitschko, Tyson Fury, Joshua and Deontay Wilder. All stand taller than the 1.93m Parker.
"These are the guys we're targeting; these are the guys who hold the titles and dictate all the big purses in heavyweight boxing so we need to go after them," Barry said.
Barry was frustrated Parker didn't go to the body earlier in his fourth round TKO win over Solomon Haumono and stressed waiting until the third round to do so again against Dimitrenko will significantly prolong the night.
Parker will be instructed to use movement, fast combinations, regularly close the distance but also avoid being stuck in middle ground within reach of the big Ukrainian. Do that, and despite Barry's predictions of it lasting the full 12 rounds, Parker should finish the job well before then.
"I think Joe is going to have to out skill, out punch and out score this guy. He's a big durable guy who is going to lean all over Joe. He's coming here to try take Joe's No 1 position and sees this as his way of assuring a world title shot.
"It's going to be similar to when we fight Joshua because if you stand there and you're within range of his right hand you'll get belted with it.
"We're not just waiting for Anthony Joshua. The way we win is preparing in fights like this. There has to be a degree of risk and challenge and Joe has to keep improving."
Dimitrenko's 38-2 record has been forged almost exclusively in Germany, with only two fights outside home comforts. He lost his two toughest tests against Kubrat Pulev (23-1) in 2012 and Eddie Chambers (42-5) in 2009 - and has fought no-one of note since.
"Joe has his own unique style for the simple fact I believe he has the fastest hands in the heavyweight division. He also has the best selection of punches of any heavyweight. There's no-one that throws the variety of punches that Joe throws."
As part of a two-week break, Parker heads off to Samoa on Wednesday to spend time with family but, with his elbow and shoulder issues now behind him, he will undergo an intensive six-week training camp in Vegas, with Barry suggesting up to 90 rounds of sparring.
Parker will take confidence from his sparring sessions with Klitschko but knows putting those lessons into fruition is a different story come fight night.
"A lot of the heavyweights are tall so it will be good to get in the ring and test myself against someone who is experienced and taller," Parker said. "It will bring up different challenges.
"Even though Joshua is in the back of my mind I've still got to stay focused on what's in-front of me. If you lose focus that's the fight that will get you."
Barry, meanwhile, attempted to dismiss the official protest launched by Haumono, who felt he beat the referee's count in Christchurch last week.
"It was laughable," Barry said.
"We saved him an embarrassing knockout loss and possibly damage to his health. I thought it was a little tongue-and-cheek they could even appeal that. There was a minute-and-a-half left in the fourth round and one thing we know about Joseph Parker is when he has a guy hurt he's a very good finisher. Joe is not going to dance around for 90 seconds.
"That fight wouldn't have gone 10 more seconds. The photos we've seen Solomon's eyes we're looking only way and that was at the floor."